Mark Webber scored his fourth Grand Prix victory of the season at the Hungaroring after benefitting from his team-mate’s penalty. The Australian now leads the world drivers’ championship while the Red Bull Racing team heads the constructors’ standings as Formula One heads into the summer break.
His drive on the softer option tyre was highly impressive. As for his team-mate Sebastian Vettel, the pole sitter was penalised with a drive-through penalty that cost him a certain victory. The German was left angry over this penalty and in the end had to settle with third, chasing Fernando Alonso to the chequered flag.
By scoring a great result in Red Bull Racing’s one hundredth race in Formula One, Webber now heads the championship with 161 points, four ahead of Lewis Hamilton – who had to retire with technical problems.
The Australian was bundled down to third on the opening lap behind his Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.
But a combination of a perfect strategy call from his pit crew and some exceptional speed in the RB6 helped Webber to beat Alonso to the flag by 17.8 seconds.
While most drivers pitted for their mandatory tyre changes, Red Bull Racing decided to leave the Australian out on track and move into the lead.
As the race resumed Webber led from Vettel, Alonso, Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren and Felipe Massa’s Ferrari. The Australian was aware he needed to pull out enough of a gap to enable him to make his single pit stop under green flag conditions.
His challenge was made easier when team-mate Vettel was given a drive-through penalty for failing to keep within ten car lengths while behind the safety car, which dropped the German to third behind Alonso.
When Webber did eventually make his tyre change – on lap 43 – he had built up a lead of over twenty-three seconds. The Australian was able to rejoin the race still with four seconds in hand over the Ferrari.
As for Lewis Hamilton, by this stage of the race the McLaren driver was out with a suspected gearbox failure. That retirement means he has surrender his lead in the championship to Webber, who now has a four-point advantage.
Finishing in fourth was Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. The Brazilian was unable to match the pace of the leading trio and at the flag was 27.4 seconds adrift from the race winner.
Vitaly Petrov drove a sensational race in his Renault as he took a career-best fifth place, one position ahead of his 2009 GP2 Series title rival Nico Hulkenberg.
Hulkenberg’s Williams team-mate Rubens Barrichello held sixth for quite a while but made his tyre change late which dropped the Brazilian down the order.
The Saubers of Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi finished in seventh and ninth respectively in between the McLaren of world champion Jenson Button, who had an awful opening lap.
As for Michael Schumacher, the seven-time world champion was on course to finish in tenth, but came under late pressure from Barrichello, who had far fresher Bridgestones in the latter stages of the Grand Prix.
The Brazilian closed onto the gearbox of his ex-Ferrari colleague and looked set to pass the Silver Arrows heading down to Turn 1 with a few laps left.
Coming out of the final corner, Barrichello got the slipstream from the Mercedes but Schumacher was quite aggressive in defending by squeezing his rival up against the pit wall. This incident was very dangerous but Barrichello held his nerve and took the final points position. An investigation will be made by the race stewards over that move by Schumacher.
Another driver who had the speed to finish in the top ten was Renault’s Robert Kubica. But unfortunately his race was compromised by a pit lane collision with Adrian Sutil while the safety car was out.
It was an unsafe release by the Renault pit crew and as Kubica accelerated, he was hit hard by Sutil’s Force India, who was turning into his own pit box.
Robert continued but was given a ten-second stop/go penalty for causing the incident. The Polish driver decided to pull out altogether a few laps later.
As for Sutil, his car was badly damaged and had to retire out on the spot. Nico Rosberg was also out after losing a right-rear wheel that left him stranded at the pit exit.
The only other retiree was Jaime Alguersuari, who pulled his Scuderia Toro Rosso off the track with smoke pouring from its engine bay on the second lap.
So a great result for Mark Webber. This race victory was crucial to his title prospects and the Australian should be proud of his achievements at Red Bull Racing. The RB6 is the class of the Formula One field and it will be fascinating to see if Ferrari and McLaren can close the performance gap after the summer break.
Race results from the Hungaroring, 70 laps:
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1h41:05.571
2. Alonso Ferrari +17.821
3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault +19.252
4. Massa Ferrari +27.474
5. Petrov Renault +1:13.100
6. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth +1:16.700
7. De la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
8. Button McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
9. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
10. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth +1 lap
11. Schumacher Mercedes +1 lap
12. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
13. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
14. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth +3 laps
15. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth +3 laps
16. Glock Virgin-Cosworth +3 laps
17. Senna HRT-Cosworth +3 laps
18. Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth +4 laps
19. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth +4 laps
Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:22.362
Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 25 laps
Kubica Renault 25 laps
Rosberg Mercedes 17 laps
Sutil Force India-Mercedes 17 laps
Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2 laps
World Championship standings, round 12:
1. Webber 161
2. Hamilton 157
3. Vettel 151
4. Button 147
5. Alonso 141
6. Massa 97
7. Rosberg 94
8. Kubica 89
9. Schumacher 38
10. Sutil 35
11. Barrichello 30
12. Petrov 17
13. Kobayashi 17
14. Liuzzi 12
15. Hulkenberg 10
16. Buemi 7
17. De la Rosa 6
18. Alguersuari 3
1. Red Bull-Renault 312
2. McLaren-Mercedes 304
3. Ferrari 238
4. Mercedes 132
5. Renault 106
6. Force India-Mercedes 47
7. Williams-Cosworth 40
8. Sauber-Ferrari 23
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 10
Next race: Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps. August 27-29.